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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 14-May-15 15:13:19

Helping the boomerang kids

This Morning agony aunt, Denise Robertson, worries for the 'live in' generations forced to return to their parents' houses, and those younger people who simply don't have the prospect of owning their own homes. She wonders how the government will put an end to phenomenal house prices and help young people to achieve the dream of owning the roof over their head.

Denise Robertson

Helping the boomerang kids

Posted on: Thu 14-May-15 15:13:19


Lead photo

Denise Robertson

Planning my first marriage to Alex Robertson in the sixties, it never occurred to me that we wouldn't be able to own our own home. That first house was a pretty semi-detached with a lovely garden in a nice street. It cost £2,200 - well within my Merchant Navy husband's reach. We were utterly happy there. Money was tight. I cut old A-line dresses into the new straighter shape to save buying new, but we managed. Last time this house was for sale, in 2013, the asking price for it was an incredible £190,000. Thankfully my five sons were all able to get onto the property ladder but what will happen to my grandchildren?

If house prices rise in the next 30 years as they have in the last 30, the average UK home will be worth £1.2 million. The chronic shortage of housing is fuelling that rise. We currently only build half the number of homes we need. How will my grandchildren manage? There is no certainty for them. Although they are all hard-working at school or in jobs, I worry for our future generations.

Research from the National Housing Federation shows the income of the average first-time buyer today is nearly double that of an average first-time buyer in the early 1980s after accounting for inflation. And the deposit required today (£30,000) is almost ten times the deposit required in the early 1980s (around £3,000) also after accounting for inflation.

The one thing the politicians can do is make sure there are enough houses to go round. That will put an end to crazy prices and bring back that dream of all newly-weds - a home of their own. Just like I had.

And yet, what is more important to family life than a secure, affordable home? I've lost the roof over my head twice. The first time I was three months old. My elder sister, Joyce, Mum and Dad were living in Sunderland. Our lovely house was repossessed because my father's business had crashed. Most of our furniture was taken by the bailiffs. I have a little chair which they didn't take as my mother had been sitting on it. It's a symbol to me of how our family kept going. Thankfully we were given a council house, three bedrooms and a pleasant garden, where I grew up very happily. We were poor but our house was full of love. My parents adored each other.

The second time, I was 40 years old, the mother of five and this time it was my husband's business which had failed. Our bank manager loaned me, a struggling freelance writer, two thousand pounds as a deposit on a vandalised terraced house. The front window was boarded up but that house was our salvation. Over time we did it up and made it a comfortable home, but imagine the situation now. Neither of those lifelines exist today. My family would either be put on a long waiting list for social housing and be given either a B&B or a grotty private rental. As a harassed and busy mother of five, there's no way in the circumstances I was in that I'd get an advance of tens of thousands as a deposit, which is what you would need today. It would be too big a risk.

I've been the agony aunt for This Morning since the first programme in 1988. Every week, at This Morning or my other columns, I hear from people in fear of losing their homes. That's if they have one! Too many are living in sub-standard private rental accommodation, even, in one case, existing in the back seat of a car. What do I say to the veteran of several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who bought a house ready for leaving the Regular Army? He was confident he'd walk into a job on release but there were no jobs. He couldn't keep up the mortgage and now he, his wife and four children are destined for the street. Heart breaking.

Too many young couples are 'living in' with parents in order to save for a deposit. Peoples' housing needs are individual and need individual solutions, as I well know. I support the Homes for Britain campaign to bring an end to the housing crisis within a generation. The one thing the politicians can do is make sure there are enough houses to go round. That will put an end to crazy prices and bring back that dream of all newly-weds - a home of their own. Just like I had.

Homes for Britain is a campaign calling for the end of the housing crisis within a generation. For more information and ways to get involved visit their website.

By Denise Robertson

Twitter: @HomesforBritain

soontobe Thu 14-May-15 15:36:11

I think I have 2 answers to this.
My first is, the older I get, the more I realise that each generation is different.
There is not much point saying, "well this is what we did, and what happened to us". Move forward 30 years, and it is a different world with a different set of problems. I no longer think that everything happens in an improving line. I just dont think life works like that. In other words, I dont think that anyone should have expectations like that. We can all wish for something, but that does not make it true.
When I see war around the world, and remember what my dad and countless others lived through, sometimes my highest expectation is just for peace.

But having said that, yes housing has got to ridiculous prices, with no end in sight.
I do think, that part of the shortage is due to a lot of houses nowadays only having one occupant. Or perhaps two. Instead of say 4 previously.

As to the answer? I dont know. I think the answer, with the new government now in for the next 5 years, is largely political, if not totally political.

tanith Thu 14-May-15 15:50:45

I like many others have no answer I can offer to this very real problem for many families. Living on the London outskirts my older grandchildren can just about manage to rent never mind buy anything . At the moment my eldest daughter has had to move in to our spare bedroom as her long relationship has broken down and she is really struggling to find even a studio that she can afford to rent, her only other option is to share but as she says to me Mum I really can't face sharing with others at my age (she is 46). Its looking like she doesn't have an alternative though..

I hope someone in power has a clue about solving this problem I really really do.

soontobe Thu 14-May-15 16:12:07

Personally, I do think that the government could solve the problem if it wanted to.

soontobe Thu 14-May-15 16:16:09

I pressed on the link given. I couldnt get on it[though it could be a problem my end.]. So I googled Homes for Britain. It looks like a badly designed website, which I for one find very offputting.
I will persevere with it though.

J52 Thu 14-May-15 16:21:01

In the past it was easier to buy cheap houses, in poor condition and do them up over a period of time.

We did this twice, living in a building site and financing the building out of earnings, slowly as funds would allow.

Developers, building societies and rising house prices have put an end to this way for young people to get a home.


TerriBull Thu 14-May-15 17:11:39

I do agree Soontobe every generation faces a different landscape and this one is no different. Whilst it wasn't easy to get on the housing ladder at the time I did, early '80s, with a bit of resolve, I'd say it wasn't impossible. My parents weren't rich by any means they managed it, as did both sets of grandparents although I know grandparents rented until they got the deposit together. My own and my family's housing ladder experiences have been in London and the Greater London area which is now absolutely impossible for my children who are renting, one in a 3 bedroomed shared house in South London with 2 friends from university rent £1,600 per month split 3 ways and one in a 2 bedroomed flat with partner and two children in Greater London £1,300 a month. Shelling out on extortionate rents does of course make it very hard to save for a deposit. Yes I know there are a lot of empty places in the UK, and whilst those places might have relatively cheap housing stock, if the jobs aren't there then that isn't a solution. My children both work in London I believe this is where they will continue to work and live, possibly they might move out a few miles but they have to be in striking distance of the capital. My step daughter moved 40 miles or so out of London to buy a house and commutes in daily for work, it costs something in the region of £4,000 per annum rail ticket and £100 per week to park her car at station car park. It's swings and roundabouts cheaper property, costly commute.

What has changed. Too many people chasing too few properties. I believe around the time of the early '60s when we had a population of 53 million this country built something in the order of 300,000 council houses. We don't build anything like that figure now and we have a population in the UK of 64 million and rising.

A few things have changed since the early 60s, people are living longer, family breakdown is more prevalent and I imagine not as many people set up home together before marriage all of those factors I guess have impacted. We have foreign investors buying up property, not just the super rich, buying top dollar mansions. I believe the new middle classes of say China with spare cash are buying more modest properties in areas such as Croydon, purely as an investment, thus decreasing housing stock in a cheaper area. Into the mix of over crowding in the South East, add in the steady flow of EU migrants, thus putting a further strain on the housing supply, which we didn't have enough of in the first place. The old cliche 1 pint into a half pint glass really doesn't begin to describe densely populated Greater London.

Clearly we need a hell of a lot more social housing and part buy/ part let schemes, as the population is growing at a rate of knots with nowhere to put them.

AnnieGran Fri 15-May-15 16:04:19

The London and South East problem could be solved by the government paying London based companies to move to other regions and charging a levy to those who won't move, payable into a house building fund. Easy! No governmental office should be in London or the South East. Move Parliament to the Midlands, both the Commons and the Lords. Charge the banks and finance companies a huge fortune to stay in London. They can afford it.

Study the actions taken in post war Britain when it was much worse - build new towns (but none in the South East this time). Build council flats for low paid workers on all the private gardens, Eaton Square, etc.

Make it illegal for foreign nationals or Brits living abroad and other non tax payers to own property in the UK. Repatriate all currently owned by non residents. The rest of the world already hates us, we are always being told, so we don't have to worry about that.

Stop the Arts Council funding ANYTHING in London. Make them bring the theatres, the opera and the ballet to the regions - not just the major cities but more distant ones. Make the National Gallery, etc, bring their spare artworks up from the cellars and distribute them round the country.

That should all help a bit!

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 15-May-15 17:52:32

Mortgages are very cheap at the moment. Perhaps the young need to start saving for their deposit earlier.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 15-May-15 17:57:56

The government are doing all they can by making sure all developments include a quota of low cost housing.

Trouble is, so many people wants one house person. How can that work?

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 15-May-15 18:00:27

Anyway, why shouldn't young people spend their young adulthood at home with the their parents? It's the accepted thing in many other European countries.

GillT57 Fri 15-May-15 18:02:04

Jings should my DS and DD start before they start repaying their student loans? Or when they get a low paid job? get real.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 15-May-15 18:04:33

If they get a low pay job they won't have to start paying back their student loans. That only cuts in when a certain level of salary has been reached. Why don't we hey study hard and get better paid jobs?

I'm already quite 'real' thank you.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 15-May-15 18:05:23

Sorry I pad messed up. Sure you can work it out though.

GillT57 Fri 15-May-15 18:08:19

Incidentally, I agree with everything Annigran has said, too much policy is based on London and the South East and there should be punitive taxes on the foreign investors buying property off plan, and selling it for a massive profit without even seeing the place, let alone living in it. Without wishing to bring politics into it, I think that house prices in London and the South East will get worse and worse while that buffoon Boris is mayor of London; he really doesn't see what is happening, or if he does, he thinks it is not a problem. There is soon going to be a time, when the current generation of public sector workers retire, that there will not be anyone to replace them. My DD is about to start training as a primary school teacher, and there is no way that she will ever be able to afford to work and live in the South East when she qualifies.

GillT57 Fri 15-May-15 18:09:13

jings angry

soontobe Fri 15-May-15 18:14:37

That is an obvious, but very good point jingl.

Agree with your post AnnieGran, except for the private parks bit.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 15-May-15 18:15:11

There are developments in the SE - low cost for key workers. She may have to rent or house share for a while, but help is available for the likes of teachers.

soontobe Fri 15-May-15 18:15:47

I was replying to her 17.52pm post. I didnt realise that posts had moved on since then!

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 15-May-15 18:16:10


TerriBull Fri 15-May-15 18:26:45

My younger son has started repaying his student loan, to be honest it's not a great deal every month. I kind of agree with Martin Lewis the money expert, insomuch as it needs to be looked at as a tax. My older son never had the chance to save for a deposit as he decided to embrace parenthood way too early, against advice I might add, but he made that choice and has to accept the consequences, although we always stumped up deposits and topped up rent occasionally. Yeah never expected to become a banker for two bloody nuisances grin but know we are not alone the Bank of Mum and Dad never came into play much when I was growing up, I got b****r all help!

Yes jingle, I know many European youngsters live at home until they can set up home, Italians certainly do, don't know whether it's so prevalent in northern Europe.

I would say that previous generations possibly went without some of the stuff this "must have it now generation" has, well to be fair a lot of it wasn't around, although we didn't expect so much or have the drink fueled nights out that many of them expect. My own children have been profligate at times and to be honest we have inherited money invested to give them more help when they acquire some sense!

soontobe Fri 15-May-15 18:43:31

I think that the student loan system is fair. Students are aware what they are signing up to.

Grannyknot Fri 15-May-15 19:48:25

My daughter and her partner (now husband) earn well, are careful with money, and have been struggling to buy their own home for 5 years. Their efforts were repeatedly hampered by having to pay exorbitant rents and or transport costs (if they moved out of London); they lost a whack of their savings on their first attempt to buy a house when the seller pulled out; another time they lost out in a 'a sealed bid' situation (the system is hopeless). They are both over 35 - not that young. They are currently awaiting completion on a tiny maisonette that they've bought, for a quarter of a million pounds. They've been in our spare room for 6 months, our house is small.

I ask you jings and others, what happens when those adult children still living at home want to start their own families?

Of course there's a housing crisis.

durhamjen Fri 15-May-15 19:58:26

But when we were students we did not have to pay back £30-40,000. We had grants. That's why so many have to go back home to live with their parents.
It's hardly fair to say that students are aware what they are signing up to. What choice do they have if they want to get a degree?

durhamjen Fri 15-May-15 19:59:41

Many students I know actually stay at home while they are doing their degrees, too, unlike when we were 18.